Public Health Thank You Day is celebrated the Monday before Thanksgiving every year.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought newfound attention to the importance of public health and the debt of gratitude we owe to all our public health professionals. We thank you for all you do under even the most trying of circumstances to protect and improve the health of all communities.
Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC Public Health Director, wrote a message for all DHEC public health staff to recognize them today. Read her message below:
Dear Team DHEC,
Today is Public Health Thank You Day, and I wanted to thank each one of you for your contributions to our shared vision of healthy people living in healthy communities.
Whether involved in COVID-19 activities or keeping our many public services and operations running smoothly, you have made a positive difference in the lives and health of South Carolina residents this year.
Thanks to you:
- We have ordered and distributed COVID-19 vaccines so that more than 5.1 million doses were administered in South Carolina.
- Over the past 12 months, there have been 495,865 client visits (excluding COVID-19 appointments) conducted by our health department staff across the state.
- DHEC successfully became an Accredited Public Health Agency in February 2021.
- The Health Care Associated Infection Team rolled out Project Firstline, a new infection prevention training program for staff across all disciplines and all types of healthcare facilities in South Carolina.
- Healthcare Quality’s merging of state licensing and federal Medicare certification oversight, training, and inspections will help better streamline resources necessary to ensure healthcare facilities comply with health and safety standards, ultimately benefitting the public health of the residents of South Carolina
- The lab’s Analytical Chemistry team, in partnership with 29 hospitals across the state, expanded testing for opioid surveillance and has been identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a model for other state laboratories participating in opioid surveillance.
- Public health team members, the public health state veterinarian, rabies program team members, and Division of Acute Disease and Epidemiology on-call physicians collaborated with the CDC rabies program to develop a survey questionnaire in response to multiple cases of people overnighting with bats at rental properties. The questionnaire has since been the template for potential bat exposure situations in other states.
- The Bureau of Drug Control’s Prescription Monitoring Program continues to be instrumental in addressing the opioid crisis. Since December 2020, South Carolina Reporting and Identification Prescription Tracking System (SCRIPTS) users can access data from 44 other state Prescription Monitoring Programs, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Military Health System. Data shows a correlation between the increased number of providers utilizing PMP and the decrease in the total number of controlled substance prescriptions.
- The STD, HIV, and Viral Hepatitis Division ensured a statewide network of community-based organizations provided services for over 10,000 people living with HIV/AIDS by offering testing, established standards of care, and supportive services.
- Improved the process for practicing veterinarians to report their yearly rabies vaccination numbers as required per the Rabies Control Act. The improved communication has allowed for the rabies program to send over 350 surveys to our veterinary stakeholder partners statewide to help clarify required procedures as detailed in the Act.
These are just a few highlights from your amazing dedication this year.
Thank you so much for all you have done, are doing, and will continue to do to contribute to a healthy society.
I am incredibly proud to be part of this team.
Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!
L. Brannon Traxler, MD, MPH
Public Health Director